30 Jun 2012

400 mourn death of TVNZ 7

8:50 pm on 30 June 2012

About 400 people held a mock funeral on Saturday evening to mark the demise of the television channel TVNZ 7.

Television New Zealand is switching the channel off at midnight on Saturday and replacing it with a channel showing repeated programming from TV 1.

The TVNZ 7 mourners marched through central Auckland behind a hearse - some were dressed in black, some held candles and flowers.

They staged a mock funeral, which included a coffin bearing the words 'Public Service Television', at St Matthew in the City.

Organiser Myles Thomas says the turnout exceeded his expectations.

"This march is about public service broadcasting, public service television, TVNZ 7 has closed down we can't stop that, the Government won't listen to us. So we're now thinking about the future, trying to get a channel back maybe bigger and better and stronger than TVNZ 7 was."

Internet millionaire Kim Dotcom was among the marchers, he says he attended because he was invited and is a fan of the TVNZ 7 programme Media 7.

"Media 7 had a very good piece about Megaupload. They were actually the first show that had a very good and very balanced story about what happened with Megaupload."

TVNZ 7 was set up in 2008 with a focus on public-service areas like the arts, current affairs, media and politics.

Its supporters say its disappearance means fewer quality programmes on free-to-air television.

A petition with just over 36,000 signatures protesting against the shutdown was presented at Parliament earlier this week to Labour's broadcasting spokesperson, Clare Curran.